Leftist New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Wednesday that she is resigning from her position because she does not have the stamina to seek re-election.
“I’m leaving, because with such a privileged role comes responsibility,” she said. “The responsibility to know when you are the right person to lead and also when you are not. I know what this job takes. And I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice. It’s that simple.”
Her term will end on February 7 and an election will be held on October 14.
Ardern was known for clamping down on the freedoms of people in her country while in office, including draconian pandemic lockdowns, gun bans, and advocating for regulating speech online.
Ardern held such fringe positions on the pandemic that she authorized a nationwide lockdown because one case had been reported in the country. “Don’t talk to your neighbors,” she said at the time. “Please keep to your bubble.”
The 42-year-old also rushed to seize a moment of political opportunity following a shooting several years ago when she announced that the country would ban semi-automatic long guns and would force people to turn them in. New Zealand’s buyback program was a failure.
Ardern faced condemnation after she compared online speech to a weapon of war during a speech at the United Nations back in September.
“As leaders, we are rightly concerned that even those most light-touch approaches to disinformation could be misinterpreted as being hostile to the values of free speech we value so highly,” she claimed. “But while I cannot tell you today what the answer is to this challenge, I can say with complete certainty that we cannot ignore it. To do so poses an equal threat to the norms we all value.”
“After all, how do you successfully end a war if people are led to believe the reason for its existence is not only legal but noble?” she continued. “How do you tackle climate change if people do not believe it exists?”
“The weapons may be different but the goals of those who perpetuate them is often the same: To cause chaos and reduce the ability of others to defend themselves, to disband communities, to collapse the collective strength of countries who work together,” she added. “But we have an opportunity here to ensure that these particular weapons of war do not become an established part of warfare.”
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that New Zealand’s gun ban followed a shooting in Australia. It was a shooting in New Zealand.